There is plenty of research around which states that the more words pre-schoolers know the meaning of, the easier they find reading and writing once they begin formal schooling.
To help your child increase their bank of words, here are my top 5 tips.
1. Read, read, read. The obvious first choice. The more exposure your child has to language the more likely they are to understand the meaning of words. Your child is more likely to ask the meaning of a word when you are reading to them, than when they are watching TV.
2. Talk to your child. Have conversations about your surroundings. If you are going to the beach, jump the waves, build sandcastles, find shells, chase seagulls or dig for buried treasure all the while talking and exposing your child to new words and images. This will help them when they read the ‘waves crashed over the sandcastle’ to be able to visualise what they have read.
3. It is unrealistic to think that parents/carers can take their children everywhere to expose them to new words. Give children a sense of a new environment by reading books about places your child has never been. If they have never been or are not likely to go to the snow, read a book with a snow theme. Discuss the clothes they wear and what they are doing. Create images in your child’s mind of the snow.
4. Encourage your child to ask questions about what words mean. I know that you hear the question, “Why?” a lot but encouraging your child to ask the meaning of a word, will help them when they go to school to have the skills to comprehend new words. Reply to your child, “What do you think the word means?’ Encourage your child to look at the pictures and re-read the sentence to try and gather meaning of the new word.
5. Think about words your child may need to know in the next few years. Make words relevant to your child and your child’s life. You may live on a farm or in the city. Expose your child to words that he or she may need to know.
Help your child become a lifelong learner.
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